Is the future predetermined?
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10-03-2017, 03:14 PM
RE: Is the future predetermined?
(10-03-2017 12:46 PM)Jay Vogelsong Wrote:  
(10-03-2017 12:27 PM)EvolutionKills Wrote:  But while you are contemplating A or B, seconds before you realize which one you've chosen, your brain has (unbeknownst to yourself) already made it's decision.

I *am* my brain, so I don't know what you're talking about.


Maybe don't cut out everything else?


It can be argued that you influenced it, but how true is that? Just how much control do you have over your own biochemistry? What really can take responsibility for that final push, the last chemical reaction or firing synapse, that tilted the scale of decision to one over the other? Can you? How influenced was your chemistry (and thus, your decision making process) by your last meal? The people around you? The quality of air? Whether or not you were holding a warm cup (I shit you not)?


The point being that you are unknowingly influenced by a myriad range of outside and internal stimuli that you are entirely unaware of. If you're not aware of the influence exerted by such stimuli, just how free is your free will? If the temperature of the cup in your hand is a contributing factor in choosing between A and B, yet if you were questioned you wouldn't even think to attribute the cup in your decision making process; then just how much agency did you really have over that decision?

If you are your brain, but your brain is both influenced by things around you that you cannot control and you're entirely unaware of how they affect you, then just how much you is you?

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10-03-2017, 03:21 PM
RE: Is the future predetermined?
If I am my brain, then I must also be my penis..... Consider

Does this mean I'm a dickhead??? Blink

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10-03-2017, 04:31 PM (This post was last modified: 10-03-2017 04:51 PM by Thoreauvian.)
RE: Is the future predetermined?
(10-03-2017 03:14 PM)EvolutionKills Wrote:  If you are your brain, but your brain is both influenced by things around you that you cannot control and you're entirely unaware of how they affect you, then just how much you is you?

Okay, lets talk about how the brain really works.

The brain is largely buffered from direct outside influences by controlling its own chemistry, at least in healthy individuals. That chemical environment remains largely the same no matter what happens externally. The brain then very deliberately selects and synthesizes very specific sensory information in accordance with its own interests and purposes, and decides to act in accordance with how it processes the meanings of such information symbolically. Due to any number of uncertainties and missing information, it can choose to interpret the same facts in different ways.

Therefore the real action is on a symbolic level unless you are talking about very reflexive responses. That is the model for brain activity which we all experience every day of our lives, and the underlying biochemistry works the same no matter how we deploy it symbolically. That is, in fact, what makes us so adaptable. There are conscious and unconscious (habitual) aspects of such information processing, but even our habitual responses are the result of previous conscious activity in most instances. In other words, almost all of it represents us, unless we are not all there (like when we are sleepwalking).

And even though we are always prepared to make certain decisions almost immediately, that does not mean those are the decisions we ultimately make. Conscious activity is the most pronounced exactly when we are the least certain about what to do.

I personally think that trying to define ourselves as if we were only our consciousness is a holdover from theistic-style thinking on the nature of the self.

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10-03-2017, 11:20 PM (This post was last modified: 11-03-2017 02:48 AM by EvolutionKills.)
RE: Is the future predetermined?
(10-03-2017 04:31 PM)Jay Vogelsong Wrote:  The brain is largely buffered from direct outside influences by controlling its own chemistry, at least in healthy individuals. That chemical environment remains largely the same no matter what happens externally. The brain then very deliberately selects and synthesizes very specific sensory information in accordance with its own interests and purposes, and decides to act in accordance with how it processes the meanings of such information symbolically. Due to any number of uncertainties and missing information, it can choose to interpret the same facts in different ways.

None of which you appear to have conscious control over, and can be influenced by something as mundane as the temperature of the cup you are holding. How meaningful is calling the input selection 'deliberate' if you have no control or awareness of it?


(10-03-2017 04:31 PM)Jay Vogelsong Wrote:  Therefore the real action is on a symbolic level unless you are talking about very reflexive responses. That is the model for brain activity which we all experience every day of our lives, and the underlying biochemistry works the same no matter how we deploy it symbolically. That is, in fact, what makes us so adaptable. There are conscious and unconscious (habitual) aspects of such information processing, but even our habitual responses are the result of previous conscious activity in most instances. In other words, almost all of it represents us, unless we are not all there (like when we are sleepwalking).

Doesn't that just causes a regression problem? Where did it start? Ultimately, with something you didn't have control over. Nobody chooses their own parents, their own genes, the circumstances of their own birth. At what point does an individual really own being an active agent through past experience, if at base all of those past experiences were built entirely out of things beyond their control?


(10-03-2017 04:31 PM)Jay Vogelsong Wrote:  And even though we are always prepared to make certain decisions almost immediately, that does not mean those are the decisions we ultimately make. Conscious activity is the most pronounced exactly when we are the least certain about what to do.

Yet, how much control do we really have over our decision making processes? Brain activity is, at base, very complex chemistry; chemistry we don't have conscious control over. I wonder if we can anymore claim responsibility for our decisions than we can the beating of our hearts?

If you had an identical copy of yourself, molecule for molecule, would they come to the same conclusion in the moment? Would it even be possible for them to conclude otherwise? And if so, just how much free will do you and your clone really have? If diversion were possible, how much could be attributed to 'you' and not your environment, or things otherwise beyond your notice or control?


(10-03-2017 04:31 PM)Jay Vogelsong Wrote:  I personally think that trying to define ourselves as if we were only our consciousness is a holdover from theistic-style thinking on the nature of the self.

I'm curious as to just how illusory our collective agreement of agency really is. Just how far back can we reasonably trace causality? Or culpability?

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11-03-2017, 02:28 AM
RE: Is the future predetermined?
(08-02-2017 06:49 AM)Heath_Tierney Wrote:  Ummm... this is a science area. Perhaps you might try re-posting this in the political section.

BTW... it was under Chretien that the Canadian deficit actually shrank after Mulroney bloated government spending. But, again, that's for the politics thread.

Gotta love an Original Poster who OPs his OP. Thumbsup

(10-03-2017 04:31 PM)Jay Vogelsong Wrote:  Okay, lets talk about how the brain really works.

The brain is largely buffered from direct outside influences by controlling its own chemistry, at least in healthy individuals. That chemical environment remains largely the same no matter what happens externally. The brain then very deliberately selects and synthesizes very specific sensory information in accordance with its own interests and purposes, and decides to act in accordance with how it processes the meanings of such information symbolically. Due to any number of uncertainties and missing information, it can choose to interpret the same facts in different ways.

Therefore the real action is on a symbolic level unless you are talking about very reflexive responses. That is the model for brain activity which we all experience every day of our lives, and the underlying biochemistry works the same no matter how we deploy it symbolically. That is, in fact, what makes us so adaptable. There are conscious and unconscious (habitual) aspects of such information processing, but even our habitual responses are the result of previous conscious activity in most instances. In other words, almost all of it represents us, unless we are not all there (like when we are sleepwalking).

And even though we are always prepared to make certain decisions almost immediately, that does not mean those are the decisions we ultimately make. Conscious activity is the most pronounced exactly when we are the least certain about what to do.

I personally think that trying to define ourselves as if we were only our consciousness is a holdover from theistic-style thinking on the nature of the self.

Smile

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11-03-2017, 02:51 AM
RE: Is the future predetermined?
(10-03-2017 04:31 PM)Jay Vogelsong Wrote:  Okay, lets talk about how the brain really works.

The brain is largely buffered from direct outside influences by controlling its own chemistry, at least in healthy individuals. That chemical environment remains largely the same no matter what happens externally. The brain then very deliberately selects and synthesizes very specific sensory information in accordance with its own interests and purposes, and decides to act in accordance with how it processes the meanings of such information symbolically. Due to any number of uncertainties and missing information, it can choose to interpret the same facts in different ways.

So, there is no "I"?

Then choice goes out the window, surely?

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11-03-2017, 06:55 AM
RE: Is the future predetermined?
(11-03-2017 02:51 AM)Banjo Wrote:  So, there is no "I"?

Then choice goes out the window, surely?

On the contrary, I am my body, including my brain. Whatever comes from either comes from me. Saying only consciousness is the self is a theistic mistake, so considering the brain somehow other than the self is also a mistake.

Of course some will say this doesn't eliminate the question of determinism. But if you are claiming that our choices are determined by our selves, you are really saying that we make those choices, at least in my book.
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11-03-2017, 07:08 AM
RE: Is the future predetermined?
(10-03-2017 11:20 PM)EvolutionKills Wrote:  I'm curious as to just how illusory our collective agreement of agency really is. Just how far back can we reasonably trace causality? Or culpability?

Perhaps your real problem is with our western notion of individuality. We are embedded in societies and families and any number of other connections, and they certainly influence our thinking. But so what exactly?

If you define the self as the body rather than as consciousness, I think a lot of your problems disappear. Consciousness really boils down to evaluating sensory information with symbolic processing. The "I" which is so often defined as consciousness is really just a concept of the "I" used in symbolic processing. Our concept of our self is not the same thing as our real self, especially since it is very often discovered to be inaccurate.

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11-03-2017, 08:00 AM
RE: Is the future predetermined?
(11-03-2017 06:55 AM)Jay Vogelsong Wrote:  
(11-03-2017 02:51 AM)Banjo Wrote:  So, there is no "I"?

Then choice goes out the window, surely?

On the contrary, I am my body, including my brain. Whatever comes from either comes from me. Saying only consciousness is the self is a theistic mistake, so considering the brain somehow other than the self is also a mistake.

Of course some will say this doesn't eliminate the question of determinism. But if you are claiming that our choices are determined by our selves, you are really saying that we make those choices, at least in my book.

I think that what I've been getting at is the exact opposite. That our choices, our idea of free-will, is a post hoc rationalization of a process that we appear to have surprising little active control over. That our choices aren't really determined by ourselves, or at the very least we have far less influence and control than we're comfortable with admitting. If something as mundane as the temperature or weight of a object being held in the hand can so influence our decisions without our knowledge, just where on that gradient do we place a line in the sand and say 'this is the bounds of my responsibility'?

If it is just the bounds of the physical self, that effectively torpedoes any idea of coercion, does it not? I mean, how could you resolve the idea of extenuating circumstances if the physical self is the only meaningful boundary of choice?


I'm genuinely curios, this is the most interesting conversation I've had in ages.

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11-03-2017, 08:12 AM
RE: Is the future predetermined?
(11-03-2017 08:00 AM)EvolutionKills Wrote:  ...
I'm genuinely curious, this is the most interesting conversation I've had in ages.

I too am curious... are you more or less curious when holding a cup of tea?

How about coffee?

Consider

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